Marc Morrone answers questions about rabbits, ferrets, feather plucking, and hamster cages.
My pet bunny loves to play outside. Can he live outside year-round?
As long as your rabbit's cage is waterproof and protected from extreme heat, wind, rain, and snow, he should be fine. Surprisingly, heat is more of a concern than the cold, since rabbits do well in chillier weather. The most important thing to remember is that rabbits need lots of water, so if it's cold outside, check regularly to make sure his supply hasn't frozen. In fact, you may want to purchase a back-up water bottle so that, if the first freezes, it can quickly be switched. Another important consideration is the sturdiness of the rabbit hutch; it needs to be strong enough so raccoons and other predators can't get inside. But keep in mind that, ultimately, your rabbit might be happier as an indoor house pet; they're social animals that prefer being around people and, when left alone all winter, often grow despondent.
Please settle a bet for me: What do you call a group of ferrets? Also, my ferret has a white head. Is it true that ferrets with white on the head are deaf?
A group of ferrets is called a "business" of ferrets. As far as the second question goes, many brown mammals that are born all white or with white on their heads are often deaf. This is a condition known as Wartenberg's Syndrome, which affects both ferrets and dogs. Have your ferret examined by a vet to determine whether the condition is present. If it is, don't give up on your pet; he or she will still be a loving companion, but will simply require a little extra patience and training.
I have two pet finches, and one always looks bald. Why is this?
When two birds are in the same cage together and one appears to be bald while the other is fine, it usually means that the bald bird is having its feathers plucked. Separate the birds for about eight weeks so the pluckee's feathers can grow back. During this time, hang a peacock or ostrich feather in the plucker's cage so it can learn to pluck at that instead of its companion.
We change our hamster's wood shavings every week, but his cage still smells. What do we do?
Some hamsters, particularly males, have a very strong odor. You might consider changing its bedding to one made of paper pulp, such as Carefresh. Paper pulp is much more odor absorbing than wood and should help to alleviate the problem.
Learn more about keeping rabbits as pets from the House Rabbit Society.